Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rav Sternbuch: Making of an Apikores


  1. can you please submit to rav sternbuch the following question.

    after purchasing a reform/conservative temple or a church with the intent to make it into a shul/beis medrash. what is the protocal that must be followed?
    thank you.

  2. non mouse said...

    can you please submit to rav sternbuch the following question.
    It is simpler if you ask him directly. He is available by phone for a number of hours and he is fluent in English phone #6519610 in Jerusalem.

    You might be interested in the Igros Moshe on the topic where he mentioned there is a machlokes whether it is desirable to do such
    OH 1 #49 I will post this separately

  3. I submit that it would be better to not publish the opinions of Rabbi Sternbuch about this subject, to avoid further Chilul HaShem.

  4. Moshe Refael-

    Sorry, pal. Your not liking the Psak Din is no reason not to publish it.

  5. Aaron S - I'm not necessarily agreeing with Moshe R's comment, but Pirkei Avos says chachamim tizharu be'divreichem. Not every psak din, and not every drasha given in a bais midrash in Yerushalayim, is necessarily worth putting online in a blog. However the principle should be applied in practice, it's a principle that's from chazal.

  6. Interesting. I never considered the publication of the words of a Gadol, which, by publishing them in an English language article he obviously intended for distribution to be a Chillul HaShem.

    Since when is the dissemination of words of Torah and words of Gedolei Yisrael constitute Chilul HaShem?

    What pray tell would you call a Kiddush HaShem?

  7. If the Chillul HaShem is really not clear to you, I fear I cannot help you on this forum. As to you last question, Kiddush HaShem would be if the world of Torah would lead the world in all fields of knowledge.

  8. I see. You think that a Torah view is backwards, and thus to expouse it publicly is a Chilul HaShem. Sad. It is sad that Torah is so devalued in your eyes, and it is sad that you devalue the great sin of Chilul HaShem for which our sages only death can atone, to the expousing of a Torah thought.

  9. Torah is not devalued in my eyes and neither do I think that a Torah view is backwards. But I think it is very possible to say backwards things in the name of Torah and to devalue Torah in the eyes of the world.

  10. And you know more than such a Gadol what is and isn't a Torah view?

  11. I do not know this Rabbi. I do not want to elaborate here about the article without the host's explicit permission. If you really do not understand what is wrong with the article, and you wish to know, I will elaborate via your blog.

  12. משה רפאל said...

    I do not know this Rabbi. I do not want to elaborate here about the article without the host's explicit permission. If you really do not understand what is wrong with the article, and you wish to know, I will elaborate via your blog.
    Your concerns are reflected in a contradiction in Rashis.

    In Shabbos (75a) Rashi says that it is important to demonstrate to goyim wisdom that they respect which is Astrology or Astronomy. Thus being knowledgable in this secular wisdom will impress them that Jews are also smart and sophisticated.
    In contrast Rashi in Chumash says that that the goyim will be impressed by a talmid chachom is is a master of Torah wisdom and mitzvos(but not necessarily secular wisdom).

    Moshe Refael is saying that Rav Sternbuch's expression of Torah knowledge is viewed as archaic and ignorant to the goyim (or secular Jews) and is not going to impress them. Mekubal is taking Rashi's view in Chumash.

    Rashi (Devarim 4:6):רש"י דברים ד:ו

    (ו) ושמרתם - זו משנה:
    ועשיתם - כמשמעו:
    כי הוא חכמתכם ובינתכם וגו' - בזאת תחשבו חכמים ונבונים לעיני העמים:
    רש"י (שבת עה.)

    לעיני העמים - שחכמה הניכרת היא, שמראה להם סימן לדבריו בהילוך החמה והמזלות שמעידין כדבריו, שאומר שנה זו גשומה והיא כן, שנה זו שחונה והיא כן, שכל העיתים לפי מהלך החמה במזלותיה ומולדותיה, במזל תלוי הכל לפי השעה המתחלת לשמש בכניסת החמה למזל.

  13. The GR"A comments at Devarim 4:6 what Rashi says in Shabbos.

  14. More than that. Chillul HaShem is a very strong an harsh accusation. I do not think it is deserved by someone who expouses a Torah point of view. All the more so I do not think it is appropriate to label a Gadol, such as the head of BaDaTz as such a sinner.

  15. LOL! as they say. Now maintaining the traditional understanding is so embarrassing that it should be silenced. Not censorship, chas v'shalom, not book banning, chalila. That is something only Charedim do. Just don't post it on a blog, because, well ya'know, it is just too embarrassing. Of course I mean it kulo l'shem shamayim, that the Torah's honor shouldn't be diminished in the eyes of the world. Chas v'shalom.

  16. Let's see if I can get this accross more by Mashal.

    Imagine an article with title "The making of an Apikores," in which the author would complain about "otherwise intelligent" people believing in illogical theories like the Mabul making things old, and would accuse these "otherwise intelligent" people of foolish denial of compelling evidence that points in the opposite direction, just because they are arrogant and want to know it all. If the article would then praise the humility of scientists who know their limits. Would you think his writing would be good illustration of the humility the author was boasting about?

  17. "Would you think his writing would be good illustration of the humility the author was boasting about?"

    No, I wouldn't. But neither do I think it is a good moshul. I have to log off for the night.

  18. " "otherwise intelligent" people believing in illogical theories like the Mabul making things old, "

    You are m'chavein to a very explicit vort from Reb Yaakov Kamenetzy. See in Emes L'Yaakov on the pasuk ..chor'chom ... lo yishbosu.

    The whole R. Slifkin affair has been conveyed in some circles as a war against the sober, rational mesora of Reb Yaakov. But Reb Yaakov was very clearly in the "irrational" camp on this issue.

  19. I had no intention of referring to anyone's vort. I wanted to illustrate by example what is wrong with the article.

  20. Perhaps I can help clarify/expand on the analogy posted by משה רפאל.

    The author decries people who only have answers, not questions. He then tells a story about Rav Sternbuch giving a glib, shallow answer to a question rather than seriously considering it.

  21. OK, let's just drop it there. Hatzlacha Raba.

  22. I get your point. Essentially not every sipur about a Gadol needs to be publicly mentioned. My guess is that from the happening, to the re-telling, to the recording, to the transcribing, to the.... until the final product, something major was lost in translation.

    Unfortunately the followers of every Rav are not always as humble as the Rav.

  23. Just in case someone is still listening...

    If one starts by looking at the world and asking how old it is, he will conclude that it is ancient. One should rather start by simply stating “Hashem made the world at some time but we don't know when”. If he created it 5770 years ago, he would, of necessity (k'viyachol), need to make it look old much older then it is. If we could just march up to north poll and chop out and ice core with exactly 5770 layers, it would effectively be m’vatel our b'chira. The same is true for all other evidences of an ancient world. And the "deception" would need to be sufficiently strong such that the "einei ha'eidah" of secular society (scientists) would be duped with a great degree of consistency. The very definition of Olam relates to Helem. One is not more or less rational to believe that an ancient looking world need not mean an ancient created world. It is just a different starting point. If so, we need to know what our mesora says about it. And on that subject, I would say that Rav Sternbuch is well within his rights to express his opinion. BTW, Reb Yaakov’s exact lashon is that a Jew is “m’chuyav to believe that the world is new”.

  24. I sometimes am searching something else, and I find an article here on DT, that was before my time or that I missed previously.

    I was looking into "apikores" since I recently reviewed a famous case of a great talmid Hacham in England who became a denier and started up Masorti Judaism.
    Whilst in certain cases, i think questions can be genuine, as can doubts, eg a scientist will question the age of the earth or evolution (the Torah does not call evolution apikorsus),
    some are less convincing.
    Louis jacobs, who was for 50 years the greatest apikores in England, was once destined for great things. The battle that took place was in the time of Chief rabbi Brodie ztl;, who was responsible for fighting Jacobs.
    what I find insulting about jacobs' approach is that he calls those who beleive in G-d's authorship of the Torah unsophisticated, whereas he is amongst the educated and sophisticated.
    Now, 50 years ago, as is the case today, the British Chief rabbis had a Beth Din which was fairly divided between modern dayanim and more Hareidi dayanim. Ironically, in the time of the Jacobs affair, it was the modern rabbis, R' Brodie and the recently retired Dayan Grunfeld who led the battle against Jacobs, whilst th more Hareidi Dayanim were less interested in a battle or even in theology.
    It also seems to me that even apikorsus - and denying Torah is the worst form of apikorsus - is not a forced choice. We had a great Chief rabbi Joseph hertz, of the famous Hertz Chumash. |n his commentary, he battles the Documentary hypothesis and gives a good demolition of the Bible critics. Jacobs was a gifted sch9olar, who could easily have developed this further, as well as Cassutto's demolition of the D.H.
    Apikorsus is usually a choice - and rational discourse can go a long way in dismissing it.
    I am not convinced that scientific issues are really apikorsus, and RAmbam also wrote that any conflict between science and torah can be resolved, even when torah needs to be reinterpreted. Ibn Ezra and Ralbag went even further.

    This was brought to mind by the discussion on the extremely open orthodox rabbi who also went the way of Jacobs.


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